● Printed copies of important documents: Your travel insurance policy, hostel and transportation confirmations (as many as you have booked), ID and passport
Someone you trust should also have hard copies!
Make sure you have the right currencies and that you have enough cash on hand for when you first arrive to a new city, just incase your card is not accepted.
● Debit and Credit Card
Make sure you have cards that are widely accepted in Europe (AMEX is not accepted most places) and that you have a sufficient amount of money you can access.
● Something to hide your cash, cash, ID and passport!
There are many ways to prevent your cash/cards/ID/passport from getting stolen, however, there is nothing that is a 100% guarantee. I say when you’re on the move, keep your cash/cards/ID/passport (if needed) on your body where you can see it!
Money belts or fanny packs are great for this. If you want to keep these items in a backpack or daypack, you can get creative. You can store them in a tampon box or shampoo bottle.
Try also to keep your backpack or daypack in front of you, however, if it’s too big or clunky for you to do so, then put a lock on the zippers! Robbers want an easy steal, not one that looks complicated.
You can also trick robbers by putting a fake wallet in a noticeable place so they think they got you, but you actually got them :). Another tip is to not store your cash in one place! You can keep some on your body in a fanny pack, and some back in your room in a hidden place in your backpack where it’s locked up :).
You’ll need something to carry around during the day that is secure, durable and lightweight! Whichever bag you choose, MAKE SURE you have an area to safely hold your cards and cash, and any necessary documents you need. I don’t suggest carrying around your passport, unless you know you need it or don’t feel safe leaving it in the room you’re staying in.
Getting one with a handle so you can easily attach it to your backpack!
Locks to put on your backpack zippers and to put on a storage locker to keep your backpack secure. Don’t get a lock with a key, as it’s too easy to lose a key or have someone else get their hands on it. Get a lock with a code!
● Hot sauce & water mixed in a small spray bottle
Pepper spray is illegal in many European countries, so opt for this DIY safety spray!
● A phone with a durable case!
Call your phone company to see what your options are for connecting abroad! You can always get a “travel” phone and buy a SIM card. Whichever phone you’ll have during your trip, opt for a neutral case so your phone doesn’t stand out to robbers.
● Tablet (Optional)
● Camera (Optional)
*Depends on the season you're traveling in!
● 4-5 T-Shirts and 2-3 Blouse Tops
I suggest “easy to wash” and neutral toned t-shirts - and a couple cute tops never hurts! You can always buy more in Europe if they wear out or you just want to spice your wardrobe up in certain places you’ll be in.
● 1 Sneakers or Boots
A good quality pair! Shoes definitely take up space, so less is more. If you’re traveling in winter, get a great pair of snow/winter boots.
● 1-3 Casual shoes
I definitely suggest a quality pair of scandals and lightweight canvas shoes if you’re traveling in the summer. You can try to fit a dressier/nicer pair of shoes in but it’s not a necessity.
● 1 Water shoes
Beaches can be rocky!
● 1-2 Jackets
Whatever season you’re traveling in, bring an “everyday” jacket that works for the temperature you’ll be in.
● 1-2 Sweater or Light Cardigan
● 2-3 Shorts
Definitely have a pair of athletic shorts during the summer!
● 2 Pants or 1-2 Jeans
Not needed for summer months, but something you of course need for winter traveling. However, long pants are great to have in any season to hide your legs from pesky bugs outdoors!
● 1 Leggings
● 1-3 Dresses
For the summer months, it’s definitely nice and cool to have a lightweight dress to walk around in!
● 5-6 pairs of Socks
Try to opt for some higher quality socks that will dry quicker and are durable - and of course warmer socks if you’re traveling in winter.
● 3-4 Bras and 3 Sport Bras
Sport bras were a life saver during the summer months when outdoors for several hours!
● 7-10 Underwear
If you’re traveling in winter, buy thermal underwear!
● 1-2 Swimsuits
Besides any prescription glasses you might already wear on a daily basis, bring sunglasses! One’s that are 100% UV protection so they actually protect your eyes. You very well can bring your nice Ray-Ban, but if you know you’ll be devastated if they break or get stolen, then cheaper sunglasses will be just fine!
A baseball cap or a big hat can be a life saver!
Perfect to wrap yourself in after swimming or to warm up in the winter months!
If you’re working outdoors for your work exchange, getting a nice pair for yourself is great but your host probably has a pair for you. In the winter months, pack yourself heavy and durable gloves!
● Accessories (optional of course!)
I highly recommend repellent! I was bitten profusely in Portugal and France and I wish I had some.
I love these multi-vitamins but of course choose the best for YOUR body!
● Vitamin B Complex
● Motion sickness medicine
● Earplugs and eye mask
You can always purchase some toiletries not absolutely needed right away, like hair ties or bandaids at a grocery store in Europe. However, if you know you won’t be anywhere near a grocery store when you first arrive or you need a specific product that they don‘t sell in Europe, buy them beforehand.
I was able to put my backpack as a carry-on for most flights, however, don’t expect it. If you know you can fit your bag on a flight, just make sure you have 3-oz bottles for your liquids!
● Toothbrush & toothpaste
● Small washcloth
It really never hurts to have some. If not for you, for someone else you might meet who needs them.
● Hair ties
● Makeup (optional of course!)
Other Things To Think About…
A true life saver if/when you run out of water when outdoors for several hours!
● Laundry wash bag
Most likely your work exchange host will be able to wash your clothes, and hostels do offer laundry services or have a laundry facility. However, I know people who have found success with a wash bag!